Belichick cited the “tragic events of the past week” as having led to his decision. Pro-Trump rioters broke out on the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday. Five people died from the chaos, including a US Capitol Police officer. House Democrats want to impeach Trump, accusing him of “inciting an insurgency.”
“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which flattered me out of respect for what the honor stands for and out of admiration for previous recipients,” Belichick said in a statement. “After that, the tragic events of the past week happened and the decision was made not to go ahead with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great respect for our nation’s values, freedom, and democracy. ”
A White House official told CNN that the White House has been made aware of the decision.
Belichick has been the head coach of the Patriots since 2000 and has won six Super Bowls, an NFL record for a head coach.
Yet Belichick had faced repeated calls to refuse the Presidential Medal of Freedom given the president’s response to the violation of the U.S. Capitol.
“This president made fun of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” he said. “Look who he’s been giving it to the past few weeks – people like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan – I mean, please. Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say, ‘No thanks.’ ”
Trump has often used the Medal of Freedom to reward his allies, be they financial, political, or just old friends. Representatives Nunes and Jordan were two of the president’s loudest political allies who defended him throughout his dismissal.
Several people close to Trump have noted that at the end of his term, one of the things he will probably miss the most is not the job of the presidency, but the pitfalls that come with it: motorcades continue to fall. to roll. Marine One, tours of the Lincoln room offered to guests, a constant press corps at his side – but also medal of freedom ceremonies.
Trump often rejoices in this, and has done so for several friends, political donors and athletes over the past four years.
Belichick concluded his statement Monday by acknowledging, “I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team. ”
“One of the most rewarding things of my professional career was in 2020 when, thanks to the great leadership within our team, the conversations about social justice, equality and human rights came to pass. in the foreground and have become actions, ”he said.
“Continuing these efforts while remaining loyal to the people, team and country I love outweighs the benefits of any individual reward. ”
This story was updated with additional information on Monday.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Paul LeBlanc, Kaitlan Collins, Maegan Vazquez and David Close contributed to this report.